2012 provides a wealth of apocalyptic fears and calamitous end-of-day scenarios, starting with the Mayan calendar’s ever-popular end-of-the-world doomsday.
If you are prone to superstition, 2012 provides a wealth of apocalyptic fears and calamitous end-of-day scenarios, starting with the ever-popular end-of-the-world Mayan doomsday.
Some have argued that Mayans, whose civilization spanned across southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize from 1000 B.C. to 1519 A.D., carved into their calendar the day the world would end—Dec. 21.
Many scholars have debunked the Mayan doomsday myth but it hasn’t stopped some from treating December as Armageddon month, turning to social media to share elaborate last-minute bucket-list ideas.
A Facebook user framed it eloquently: He urged his friends to get right with God or make love with a stranger. But Gerardo Aldana, an associate professor at the University of California (Santa Barbara) tells his students, also via Facebook, they still have to do Christmas shopping this year.
Aldana, who has studied the Mayans since 1995, says the theories of mayhem attributed to the calendar came largely “from a misunderstanding of the calendar and mythology.”
“Priests and historians used the Long Count to track mythology back to 3114 B.C. and even earlier,” Aldana said. “But they only really recorded their history for the time between A.D. 300 and 900. They then extended the calendar far into their and our own future, as far as A.D. 4772,” he added.
Mayan calendar: Myth of doomsday
Aldana argues the misinterpretation dates back to the 1960s when archeologist Mike D. Cole published “The Maya.” There he suggested the Mayan calendar would end in 2011 or 2012, hinting, in jest, that it meant the end of the world. Scholars have since said there’s no evidence the calendar predicts an apocalyptic future.
The Mayan calendar has long astonished scholars. John Malone, author of Unsolved Mysteries of Science, regards the ancient timekeeper as the “most accurate calendar devised by any ancient culture.”
Simon Martin, co-curator for the “Maya 2012: Lords of Time,” an exhibit at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia that showcases the ancient and modern Mayan culture, said December will bring a changing period in much the same way that the year 2000 marked a new millennium.
“What happens in December of this year is that it changes from the 12th baktun to the 13th baktun, and that’s a cycle that has been running for 400 years,” Martin said. “The current sequence of 13 baktuns has been running since 3114 BC or 5,125 years,” he added. A baktun is 144,000 days.
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